<< Forward with Back to the Bible

The Lord Is Near - Forward with Back to the Bible - April 30

  • 2022 Apr 30

The Lord Is Near

April 30

Read Philippians 4:5 (ESV)

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.

Reflect

Does knowing that the Holy Spirit is always present in your life change the way you want to behave?

Have you heard the old adage “When the cat's away, the mice will play?” Maybe you’ve even seen this play out in your life. When the parents are gone, the kids break house rules. When the boss is gone, productivity drops. When the teacher steps out of the room, chaos ensues. If the cops are out of sight, the speed limit is…optional.

It is true that the presence or lack of an authority figure can directly impact human behavior. Yes, oftentimes fear of getting caught and avoidance of consequences are the motivations for this. But have you ever been around someone whose presence just made you want to do better? Maybe it was a teacher that you deeply admired and respected so their presence in your life inspired you to be like them. You didn’t follow their lead or obey their rules just because they were in a position of authority. You obeyed them because you wanted to please them. You wanted to make them proud.

I’ve had a few people like this in my life. I discovered that, even when they weren’t around, I wanted to do the right thing because I didn’t want to let them down if they ever found out. In that way, it is like their presence was always with me. Like all of those times you hear your mom’s voice in your head telling you what to do and what not to do!

In today’s verse, Paul was in the midst of encouraging the Philippian church to be unified, be joyful always, and to refrain from worrying but to pray instead. In the middle of this exhortation, Paul urged them to “let your reasonableness be known to everyone”. The NASB translates this as “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” Other translations use synonyms such as “considerate” or “gentle forbearance.” But the idea here is that Paul said the church should be known for treating everyone with patience, fairness, gentleness, and consideration. Basically, we should bestow the same grace and mercy on others that God has bestowed on us.

The part of this verse that is sometimes debated is what does it mean that “the Lord is at hand” or as the NLT version says “the Lord is coming soon”? Other translations like the NIV and the NASB translate it as “the Lord is near.” Was Paul talking about Jesus being physically near us all the time or was he referring to the imminent return of the Lord? Theologian Dr. Gordon Fee, summarized the question of Paul’s intended meaning like this: “Does he intend, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; and let your gentle forbearance be known by all, for the (coming of) the Lord is near’? Or ‘Because the Lord is (always) near, do not be anxious about anything…’”

Given the context, it seems to make the most sense that Paul intended to communicate the omnipresence of the Lord. In that sense, it would be like Paul is saying to treat everyone with fairness and gentleness because the Lord is always with us. He is always watching, and His continual presence should motivate us to live godly lives. If we fear and respect the Lord, we want to please Him with faithful obedience and right living all the time.

But it could also be interpreted that the time of the Lord's return is near. If this is the case, it is like Paul is saying, the Lord can come back at any minute! How do you want to be caught treating people when He returns?

But regardless of which interpretation Paul intended, we know both are true. God is never “away” therefore His people should never “play.” Remembering His continual presence should encourage us to live godly lives because we love Him. We want to make Him proud and we want to be like Him. But we also know that His return is imminent. Jesus Himself told parables about how we should always be ready because we do not know the day or hour of His return (Matthew 24:36-44). Bottom line? The Lord’s continual presence and his anticipated return should inspire us to show grace to everyone because grace has been given to us. The Lord is near in every sense of the word.

Pray

Lord, I know that You are always with me and I also know that Your return is very soon. I want the way I treat others to honor and please You. Help me to live and love others the way You lived and love me. Amen.

~ Pastor Nat Crawford

Move forward in your faith with more from Back to the Bible at backtothebible.org or oneplace.com. We're also on Facebook and Twitter.



More Forward with Back to the Bible Articles

Follow Crosswalk.com